How Barcelona raised Thiago Motta’s horizons

Having joined the club’s academy as a teenager, Thiago Motta was deeply influenced by his time at Barcelona, but now he is eager to stand up to his old employers with Paris in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The Italian international midfielder, 34, spoke to

On facing Barcelona again …

Barcelona are the favourites – that’s pretty obvious, you can see that in everyone’s eyes. But we’ve competed against them many times, we know what they can do, and we also know there’s a chance for us to get to the quarter-finals. They’re going to be two really tough matches, but it will definitely be tough for them as well. We know they are always the favourites, but we’re going to approach both matches with great enthusiasm, holding on to the dream of doing something more in this competition.

Highlights: Relive Barcelona’s 2006 final win over Arsenal
Barcelona’s 2006 final win

On growing up at the Barcelona academy …

You gain a sense of responsibility and a work ethic. We all want to have fun on the pitch, but you also know the enormous responsibility you have, mainly because of the passion that comes from the fans. You have to have the respect and responsibility to keep working and do your best on the field – to do your maximum. You also bring that into your life. I have kids now, I try to pass those values on to them.

I feel very privileged to have helped Barcelona win the UEFA Champions League in 2006. Every player wants to play at that level. I was lucky. Footballers’ careers are short, but what you get to keep are those wonderful memories.

Inter back on top at last
How Inter won it in 2010

On Inter’s 2009/10 UEFA Champions League-winning campaign …

I arrived in 2009, along with important players like Diego Milito, Lúcio, Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o, which made for a very strong team under a very good coach [José Mourinho] who knew about the competition. We had a tough path – Chelsea, Barcelona and the final against Bayern – but it’s a title that will be in the memory of all Interistas forever. Was it a little frustrating to be suspended for the final? More sad than frustrating, but I was happy too, because I’d played my part in big matches like the ones against Chelsea and Barcelona.

Watch Ronaldo guide Barcelona to glory against Paris
Watch Ronaldo guide Barcelona to glory against Paris

On Paris’s UEFA Champions League credentials …

The team have been improving since my arrival [in 2012]. We’ve gained a certain standing in the Champions League, which is never easy. But we know that’s not enough, because Paris Saint-Germain are a big club that want to do a little bit better in the Champions League. It’s not easy, you come up against teams like Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Bayern. Until recently, it was hard for us to match clubs like that. But this season we’ve tried to do that even more than previously, when we’ve got to the quarter-finals. This time we hope to do better and, who knows, reach the final and fight for the title.

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